No compromise on CPEC security, army chief tells Chinese envoy

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa has said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the economic future of Pakistan and its security shall never be compromised.

The army chief made these remarks during a meeting with Chinese ambassador on Tuesday, said an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement.

Matters pertaining to mutual interests and regional security also came under discussion, the ISPR said.

“Ambassador appreciated the successful visit of Chinese foreign minister and support for CPEC in Pakistan,” the military’s media wing said.

The development came a day after a report in the London-based Financial Times newspaper quoted some cabinet ministers as saying that Islamabad was considering renegotiating some agreements signed with Beijing under the multi-billion dollar One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative. Both Pakistan and China reacted angrily to the report.

Hours later, the Commerce Ministry issued a rebuttal. It said the news item was premised on out of context statements.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had already constituted a nine-member committee to evaluate CPEC. The multi-billion-initiative includes a revamp of Gwadar deep sea port, road and rail links and power plants.

On Sunday, the two countries agreed to invite thrid-country investors to be part of the CPEC and add social sector and regional development schemes to the existing portfolio of CPEC projects.

The development came at a meeting between the Planning, Development and Reforms Commission of Pakistan and the National Development and Reforms Commission (NDRC) of China.

Both the sides said that CPEC – “an icon of the Belt and Road Initiative” – was an engine of rapid growth for Pakistan and a manifestation of the strong Pak-China relations that would continue to promote inclusiveness.

Published in Daily Times, September 12th 2018.